Well, ionocrafts use ion wind in order to propel itself in the air, but that needs a lot of surface area in order to work.

And since ionised gases can be magnetically manipulated, I was wondering if combining ion thrusters with electromagnetic accelerators would work.

However, I couldn't find any kind of information on the subject. Normally the results only talk about ion thrusters or plasma propulsion only.

I guess that the weight would be a problem, but maybe there is a "middle term" where one balances these two systems.

The closest result I could find was this pulsed plasma thruster propulsion system of a satellite that uses Teflon, where the cathode and anode are positioned in such a way that the electrical current helps the plasma a little bit due to its design.

But nothing beyond that.

  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/96627/… $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall no, that question asks why it is not ducted, not electromagnetically driven. $\endgroup$
    – Fulano
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 17:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OK, I thought some of the limitations of such a system that the answer provides might be relevant though. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


An ionocraft does use an electromagnetic accelerator. It works by generating an electric field that accelerates the ions between two plates and taking advantage of the interaction between the ions and the air to develop thrust.

Note that this is a distinct mechanism from an ion thruster as used in a spacecraft. Since there is no air to interact with, a spacecraft has to carry the materials to be ionized on board and eject them from the back of the spacecraft in order to develop thrust. This requires a different design of accelerator than an ionocraft, which generates the ions from the surrounding air and then recaptures them.


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